What’s Next for Deirdre

Deirdre in SovngardeSo there it is, 62 chapters, 350,000 words, or roughly 750 printed pages. (If you haven’t begun The Song of Deirdre yet, you can start here.)

When I began this project two years ago, I had several questions (spoiler warning!):

  • Could I get fictional characters moving about and speaking in a convincing manner?
  • Could I make the world of a video game come to life on the page?
  • Could I make it equally entertaining both for those who had played Skyrim and for those had never played video games at all?
  • Could I write a convincing female character (whatever the hell that means)?
  • Could I avoid making her what Anita Sarkeesian calls a “Ms. Male Character” (essentially a male character with a few superficial feminine markers)?
  • Could I write the whole thing as a first-person memoir and sustain reader interest?
  • Could I wrestle the random quest lines of Skyrim into a coherent plot with enough narrative tension to keep readers clicking “next chapter”?
  • Could I manage four main narrative arcs and a couple of smaller ones?
  • Could I rise above the inherent heterosexism of a straight man writing a lesbian character if I focused hard enough on developing her relationship and did so in what I think of as a feminist and LGBTQ+ -friendly way?

Deirdre and LydiaIf you’ve read the whole work, I’d love to hear your answers in the comments below.

On the first two questions, I’d give myself a provisional “yes,” so I believe I’ll continue writing fiction and maybe even try to make some money at it. On the rest of the questions, I don’t really have a clue. If you feel I failed at the last one (but then you’re probably not reading this, are you?), I’d say just go read Hild: A Novel by Nicola Griffith, which I can’t recommend highly enough. One of the best books I’ve ever read.

As for what’s next, that depends. Astute readers have noticed hints in the novel that there’s something left to come after the ending of this book. And of course there’s the whole issue of what will happen next with the Empire and the Aldmeri Dominion. I have ideas for another two books in which those questions would be answered, making it the inevitable trilogy. But I really can’t justify putting in that much effort for free.

Lydia armor 2So, I may turn to original fiction, and I have a couple of ideas there.

[UPDATE 7/13/15: I hope you’ll check out the beginning of my new novel. It’s an adventure/romance (mostly romance) set in Georgian England, and inspired by Alfred Noyes’ poem, “The Highwayman.” Not to give too much away, but if you liked Deirdre and Lydia’s relationship, you’ll probably like this. But don’t expect the same level of action as Deirdre; it’s inspired more by Jane Austen than Tolkien/Martin/Skyrim. I’ll just be posting several chapters as teasers, and hope to get it published at some point (with some sort of deal for early readers). The novel is complete, and if you’d like to be a beta reader, drop a comment below, or shoot me an email at Lahogue AT gmail DOT com.]

Also, I’ll definitely continue with the guide to Mid-Michigan cycling I’ve been working on. (A recent post in that category was the most popular so far on this blog, so that gives me encouragement.) Either way, the Deirdre story will have to go on the back burner, if I ever get back to it all. Unless…

I could make it a “Pulled to Publish” work, as E.L. James did with her Twilight fanfiction. But Deirdre would have to get way more popular to make that feasible. And the thought of the work involved in ripping it all out of the Elder Scrolls universe makes my head ache.

Or…

I’ve tried contacting Bethesda Softworks to see about getting some sort of license to publish The Song of Deirdre (or for all writers of Elder Scrolls fanfiction to be allowed to publish on the Kindle Worlds program), but so far with no success. Meanwhile, one writer is selling her Skyrim fanfics on Amazon and getting away with it, a fact that really steams me. I never expected to earn anything on this project, but to find out that someone else is doing so under the table – yeesh! I’ve tried alerting Bethesda to this fact, again with no response. So maybe Bethesda will eventually get back to me with a definite yes or no, or, if I hear nothing from them, maybe I’ll also try to sell this on Amazon (although I live in dread of Bethesda’s warrior-scribes and their Dual-Wielded Writs of Cease and Desist). [UPDATE: As of around July 1, that link to Amazon no longer works because Amazon has taken down the offending works. So, success on that score at least.]

So what can you do if you want to read the next installments in The Song of Deirdre? Spread the word. Put links to Chapter 1 (or the version over at fanfiction.net) on any social media platform you can think of. If you’re a “troper,” add it to this list on TVTropes.org. Tell your friends. Write a letter to Bethesda (info@bethsoft.com) asking them to license the Elder Scrolls to the Kindle Worlds platform, and I’d love it if you mentioned The Song of Deirdre  as a work that deserves publication.

UPDATE on 6/20/14: Just received this from Bethesda’s customer support people:

Greetings Larry,
I would like to thank you for taking the time to bring this [Skyrim fanfiction being sold on Amazon] to our attention. I will go ahead and pass all these details along to the teams that are responsible with dealing with copyright infringement.
Bethesda Softworks appreciates our fans and generally does not discourage posting of non-commercial fan created tributes.  Any use of our intellectual property for commercial purposes, however, including The Elder Scrolls® or Skyrim® names, logos, branding elements, artwork, etc., is strictly forbidden without a written license agreement.  We regret that we are unable to grant licenses for the commercialization of fan fiction.
We also cannot accept unsolicited manuscripts or other material.  Please do not send us any submissions.
Please be advised that any commercial use or exploitation of our intellectual property rights is not permitted.  Bethesda Softworks will strictly enforce its rights.
Kind Regards,
Bethesda Softworks
Since I haven’t heard back from the people at Bethesda to whom I submitted sample chapters, this door seems to be shut. It also appears Bethesda has no interest in working with the Kindle Worlds platform. So for now it’s on to new works.
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Comments

  1. TheRealG says:

    Looking over at the ff.net page of this particular story, I was myself really quite surprised when I saw that Deirdre’s story has less hits than I’d initially thought it would have. Which is a mite shame, as your writing is one of the most fluid and gripping I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. Believe you me when I say that I’ll certainly be trying to get more to go and give Deirdre a chance, and I’ll go and see if I can start a TVTropes page for our Lady Morningsong.

    As for the questions you’ve posted for yourself, I’d like to say “yes” to a lot of your questions, though I think my 700+ hours spent in the lands of morrowind, cyrodiil and skyrim exclude me from answering your question about non-players of the series. As for the romance, I at least found it refreshing how you focused more on the emotional side of things, though I for one cannot give you a definite answer on your last question.

    As for supporting you and your writing habits, know that I stand ready to provide support, however minimal it may be. Just know that I am most looking forward to seeing more of Lady Morningsong and the Hero of Whiterun.

  2. larryhogue says:

    Thanks for that, RealG.

  3. Beardinator says:

    Ok, so I have never posted a review here before, but there are a few things I wanted to let you know. Also, English is not my native language, so my apologies if I mess something up.

    The most important thing first: I have really enjoyed reading the story and it has, at all times, kept me interested. I think that you can certainly say that you have managed to do a great job with the story, and I personally would say yes to all the questions you asked yourself. Although I have one little point of criticism on it: I’m not sure that any couple, straight, gay or otherwise, would say “my love” and combinations of as often as in the story. I don’t think I’ve ever heard people say it that often anywhere, and it is a bit distracting. However, that is just my personal taste, so feel free to ignore it.

    However… there is a problem with getting this publicised, and while it certainly is not related to the quality of your writing, it’s a pretty big problem none the less.
    The thing is, the story strays away from the “canon” established by Bethesda. Looking at the events happening in Skyrim, at no point does the Dovahkiin become the High King/Queen, nor do the Thalmor attack Whiterun and conquer it. Yet those things do happen in your story, and that’s a problem. Those events do make the fanfic more interesting to read, but it would create problems with the canon and create continuity errors, and that is something a lot of publishers would really like to avoid.

    As for that writer selling her books with Bethesda’s intellectual property without permission from Bethesda, that is unacceptable and I would inform Amazon of such practices.

    Anyways, I am looking forward to seeing more work from you, and I wish you good luck with your other projects.

  4. larryhogue says:

    Thanks for the comments, Beardinator! I’m glad you enjoyed the story.

    I’ll consider toning down the “my love”s. It comes from the game, but I agree it can get annoying.

    I can imagine that Bethesda could have a problem with the non-canonical parts of the story, but perhaps only if they had plans to develop a future game in which one side or the other wins the Civil War. Right now, there are two possible canonical endings, and I would hope to convince them that this is just a third one. Perhaps the multiple universes theory applies to the Elder Scrolls universe – Bethesda used something like it to explain the multiple endings in Daggerfall.

    I hadn’t thought about contacting Amazon about the violation of Bethesda’s copyright. I’ll give it a try.

    Thanks again for your comments.

  5. TheMightyBlob says:

    I have just finished the novel now and it is certainly up there with my all time favourite reads. The characters, plot and writing style were great and very consistent. My only gripe is the frequent use of the word “Too” to start off a sentence, it sounds a little odd when used like that, but that may be just me!

    Sorry I haven’t written more but I’m using my iPod at 2 am to write this 😛

    Best wishes for the future and any sequels that may or may not happen!

  6. larryhogue says:

    Glad you enjoyed it!

  7. OK, finished this book during a very busy time (selling my house, getting ready to move, starting a business, and buying a commercial property), but it was a great escape to all the chaos.

    I thought to tone was consistent and appropriate. I’ve read a lot of fantasy and this is a contender to be near the top of the list. However, I felt that Deirdre’s rejection of Lydia was a little extreme, but I rationalized that the stress of her eminent endeavor just got the better of her.

    One thing, and it seems this is the type of feedback you’re looking for: as a non-Skyrim person, there were a lot of races, cities, people, and regions that simply got all mixed up for me. They somehow didn’t seem distinct enough for me. It is possible that my decision to read late at night (I couldn’t put it down), or my eagerness to get to the next chapter (I couldn’t put it down), caused me to start using speed reading techniques, but when Deirdre went back to a town, I completely forgot what that town was about and who she was talking to. Without constantly referring to a map, I didn’t get a great sense of how the towns were related and what their politics were. There were so many different factions, often from the same race, that I couldn’t compartmentalize it enough for me to recall the distinctions later. I don’t expect you to dumb it down for me, but perhaps some sort of traits as cues could help jog my memory, since I am reading this with NO Skyrim context.

    And I only found one typo (go back one page!).

    Thank you for sharing this, it was very enjoyable. Now that Deirdre is so powerful, I’d wonder what else could get in her way enough to be compelling, but I’d sure like to see you try.

  8. larryhogue says:

    Thanks for the wonderful review, Derek!

  9. I don’t think that your fic deviating from Bethesda canon is in any way a problem, in fact, it’s a major benefit to it. It would be rather boring to read a straight-up novelization of Skyrim, even written in your good style. I severely doubt that Bethesda would allow you to publish it regardless – an author granting a fan the permission to commercially publish a fanfic is virtually unheard of. Certainly no professional writers popular with fanficcers – from J. K. Rowling to George R. R. Martin – ever did so.

    Your fanfic kept me awake through the night. I’d say you generally succeeded at all your goals, except maybe for 3 – I can see how someone completely unfamiliar with the Skyrim backstory might get confused,

  10. The best achievement of this fic is portraying a very idealistic successful character without the character becoming a Purity Sue.

  11. larryhogue says:

    Thanks for all your comments, Lone Wolf.

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